Too Big to Sustain (7)

Israel did not have, but we do, the example of millennia of empires that have fallen because the societies of these empires moved into social conditions that could not be reversed. For example, we again refer to the Roman Empire, which one hundred years before Jesus, had, because of its strength, conquered every nation encircling the Mediterranean basin. The problem with the expansion of the Empire, however, was that Rome began to reach beyond the Mediterranean basin to territory that overextended their financial ability to sustain after they were initially conquered. By the end of the third century A.D., their expansion and control aspirations eventually caught up with them. It was then that the Empire began to collapse when civil wars and invasions, which national tensions, taxed their financial strength. The end was in sight when the Visigoths attacked and took the city Rome in 410 A.D. However, the collapse of the Empire had actually begun far before this date as the society had already begun to implode.

In the area of government and finances, Rome ignored the principle of “social thermodynamics.” In the realm of natural law, the law of thermodynamics is a principle that the energy that sustains the physical world is constantly degenerating into entropy, that is, the universe is simply running down and will not be restarted. As a burning match that is going out, the energy that maintained the “burn of the universe” cannot be recaptured to burn again. The energy that maintains the continued existence of the physical world will eventually evaporate into uselessness (entropy). Lost energy will not be regenerated, and thus there remains no more energy to sustain that which is now running down.

The same is true of societies and governments.   There is a social thermodynamic that cannot be reversed. In a democratic government, the government is based on the energy of the society to produce wealth and continue its existence. When the society begins to lose its power to sustain the government, then the government and society is crippled. Rome exercised great social ingenuity in order to continue for several centuries, but in its last century of existence, the signs of consummation were evident. The energy of social strength was digressing into a realm of “social entropy.”

Rome grew its military force in order to conquer and intimidate a vast number of nations. To encourage continuity and a strained patriotism, she permitted self-rule of those people whom she conquered, and sought to integrate them into Roman culture and government. Rome sought to encourage patriotism to the Empire that would keep the peace. Rome even gave a limited autonomy to regional courts within the societies of the conquered people. But as Gibbon and other historians have concluded, these things were to no avail. As the society of Rome began to follow the course of “social thermodynamics,” the government and war machine headed into “social entropy.” There was eventually no more social energy (patriotism) to continue the Empire.

When social structures within the society and government of Rome were crumbling, it was only a matter of time until the final collapse. Historians give 476 A.D. as the date of the end of the Roman Empire. Ths was the date when the Germanic Odoacer deposed in Rome the last of the Western Caesars. One thousand years of Roman influence came to an end.

And as went Rome, so goes all empires of this world, including Western civilization. As we previously stated, it is not if, but when Western civilization will eventually consummated its existence as we now know it, and give way to another. No civilization can withstand the changing forces of “social thermodynamics.” Even as we write, Western civilization is giving way to another predominate social civilization that will eventually make itself known by the end of this century.

The people of Western civilization will not vanish away. Only the means by which they morally conduct and govern themselves will pass away. When that time comes, it may be more advantageous to be a poor farmer in the fields of Palestine, than an elite resident in the crime-ridden urban centers.

[Lecture series will continue.]

From Farm to City (6)

When Israel was first established as a nation in Palestine, it was a rural society. The people lived and labored on their own farms—as it was in the early development of America. The cities were given to the preachers (Levites) who were supported by the people.   When there was a drought or pestilence in a particular region of Palestine, according to the law, other farmers would help to aid the unfortunate who were suffering because of the lost of their crops. The “gleaning law” was designated for those whose land was unproductive because of drought or pestilence. The year of Jubilee, when all land was to be returned to the original owners, was to guarantee that the society would not move into a “haves and have not” economic society. God’s civil laws of the Sinai law would guarantee that the society of Israel would never digress into a social order where the poor were marginalized by an elite.

A poor class did not exist in Israel until some citizens began to ignore the rules of the Sinai law that were established to guarantee economic equality among the people. Therefore, when inequality set in that produces a minority elite, but a majority who are exploited for the benefit of the elite, then God said it was over. Such societies cannot carry on indefinitely without a revolution by the underprivileged.

In the case of Israel, God built two foreign economies that were stronger than Israel in order to bring down judgment on Israel. Because Assyria and Babylonia became stronger economies with totalitarian governments that had stronger military forces, they were able to overpower a nation that depended on the power of the rich “corporate” owners in the cities (Samaria and Jerusalem).   Because the upper wealthy class of Israel could not inspire patriotism from the exploited masses, Israel was doomed.   The masses of the exploited saw no need to defend their poverty, even though it was against an invading power.

In the case of Israel, it was not a revolution by the poor farmers, but an invading force that brought the nation to a close. Ironically, when the outside invading force showed up at the city gates to bring down the rich city elite, the captors took the elite city survivors into captivity. However, the invading armies “left some of the poor of the land to be vinedressers and farmers” (2 Kg 25:12). With the final destruction of Jerusalem, “Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard [of Babylon] left in the land of Judah the poor of the people who had nothing. And he gave them vineyards and fields at the same time (Jr 39:10; see Jr 40:7; 52:16).

The irony of both the Assyrian captivity of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722/21 B.C. and the Babylonian captivity of the southern kingdom in 586 B.C, was that the city elite of both Samaria and Jerusalem were marched off into captivity, but the poor were allowed to remain in the land to farm the farms and tend the vineyards. God’s judgment of the elite exploiters of the poor was just.   The poor did not suffer the judgment that was due the elite. The poor who were left in Palestine, were thus sent restored as a rural society, as they were when they were first established in Palestine after Egyptian captivity.

The poor were again to institute the rural statutes of the Sinai law. The only thing that changed was that they became an occupied land, first by the Assyrians, then by the Babylonians, then the Medo-Persians, the Greeks, and finally the Romans. It was during the occupation of the Romans that they would be allowed again to have their own King. But this King would not reign on earth in Jerusalem. It would be it was before they cried out for a king on earth during the days of Samuel. As the Father was their King in heaven for almost five hundred years after they came out of Egyptian captivity, and when they were a rural society before King Saul, King Jesus would also reign in heaven over the spiritual Israel unto the consummation of the world at the end of time.

[Lecture series will continue.]

Aging Parts and Pain (5)

As a nation—and as our physical bodies—we become inflexible in our old age. Every movement becomes painful. Our loss of flexibility means that we are moving toward falling apart. In reference to nationhood, we have entered the time when parts must be propped up in order to continue. Congressional indecision is evidence of an aging process, for it is society that has voted into office those who find it difficult, as a society, to live in unity with one another. Our lack of flexibility means that the West is entering the years of a bipolar civilization.

Rome fell apart from within because it could not produce a unified society that wanted to work together for the glory of Rome.   National pride gave way to petty special interests within that were centered around local matters. The greater glory of the empire could not overshadow the social divisions that existed within the empire. Once the control of the central government collapsed through inflexibility, the dangling dependent nations throughout the Empire went their separate ways.

In the gradual fall of a civilization, we start electing leaders we believe will fix our aging body. Since we are a business-oriented empire that was established on the foundation of two centuries of hard work, we will elect populist technocrats who major in success in the business world. Regardless of our technocrats’ experience in democratic functionality, however, we trust that if they have been successful in the financial world, then certainly they will make us successful again as we were great in bygone years. If our technocrats take our stock market to new levels, then certainly our nation is in good health and we will survive. We are forcing ourselves to believe a lie. We forget that great civilizations are not built on money, but on people. When money is used to manipulate people, then as Israel, the civilization is on its way out.

The financial world of printing money in collapsing civilizations of today lead the people to believe that the printed paper money will perpetuate the existence of an empire. But printing money produces inflation, and inflation further increases the gulf between the rich and the poor. The printing of money increases the shares the elite have in the financial institutions of the free-market society. The success of the financial institutions and stock markets, therefore, are deceptive. Because so much printed money is in circulation, its “appearance” in society shows up in overinflated financial institutions. Successful financial institutions and a high stock market deceives the populace into thinking that their economy is healthy. But there is a difference between a stock pile of gold and a stock pile of paper money. One pile indicates that an empire is truly rich. But the other indicates that an empire is built only on a pile of paper.

The destiny of the “paper empire” is terminal.   When the empire cannot print enough money to pay the interest on the accumulated debt of the empire, then the empire is destined for a catastrophic financial correction. And when the correction comes, those who know these things about “paper empires” have already cashed out and sold their stock.   In doing so, they further enrich themselves and their separation from those who lost fortunes in “Bitcoin bubbles.”   The social result is that the financial and social gulf between the rich and poor is exacerbated to revolutionary tensions. The rich patron land owners are run from the land. Zimbabwean farmers have their farms seized. A social paradigm shift occurs, and thus a French Revolution (1789-1799), Russian Revolution (1917), and Latin American civilizations socially restructured with when the land owners gone (1950s, 1960s).

A society that has been born and bred on prosperity always forgets that the social norms of a society are always more influential in the future of the civilization than financial wealth.   Must we return to the lessons that Israel learned in her rise and fall? Rome, as Solomon and Rehoboam, also tried the deception of taxation to produce a strong nation (See 1 Kg 12:10,11). The problem was that enough finances could not be produced to sustain the military and government systems that could sustain the nation. As a nation cannot tax itself into prosperity, so neither can the printing of wealth perpetuate a nation that depends on the same.

We have fooled ourselves when we think that financial health has priority over social norms. It is a morally healthy society that perpetuates civilization, not a stock market that is breaking new limits. In fact, aging financial health often works against social health because financial health is deceptive in reference to a morally degraded society.   In a society that has prided itself on financial successes one after another, we forget that in a free market democratic society such successes place the majority of the wealth into the hands of the few. The problem with this inequity is that the few, as in the end of Israel, have few moral norms by which they can maintain their wealth in reference to the poor, who become the mass labor force of the society. The labor force that produced and maintains the empire, begins to be marginalized by the elite few. It is then that social cracks begin to appear in the civilization. It is then that the financially marginalized begin to consider revolution.

Among the disadvantaged, hope gives way to despair, and despair in a democratic society eventually catches up with the nation as a whole. The poor have no hope of being successful as the rich for whom they labor. They can only envy the Kardashians and imagine their life-style. The reason for this is that in a democratic free-market society, the cost of living bypasses the financial abilities of the labor population. Labor finds it difficult to survive because the wealth of the society is in the hands of too few people, who have, for example, priced all the houses out of financial reach of the poor. The masses who are on the bottom cannot keep up with the economy that is governed by the wealthy on the top of the food chain. In a democratic society, the majority that is now financially suffering, determines the future of the civilization.

In this social environment the rise of “prosperity prophets” infiltrate the religious sector of the populace. They preach a “prosperity gospel” in order to bring hope to the financially disadvantaged. They deceive the people into believing that they can use their faith to gain wealth. Because the faith of the deceived is often the last social norm upon which the disadvantaged have to maintain some hope, they bite into the deception that their faith can produce financial success, just as the rich.

The prosperity gospel preacher dresses himself in fine clothing. He wears gold in order to give the appearance of financial success. He orchestrates motivational assemblies before whom he stands as a successful pulpiteer who dangles an audience or religious puppets before him with an orchestra of stringed instruments who play rapturous concert music. In order to take his audiences into a hypnotic frenzy, people are supposedly healed and dead people raised.

The deceived ignore the fact that the “financial success” of the prosperity preacher came at the expense of a people who have been jilted into believing a prosperity religion of deception (2 Th 2:1-12). The prosperity preacher thus joins the exploiting rich in a declining civilization. He has bought into the culture of financial prosperity, and thus has convinced himself that the aging civilization of which he is a part, can be restored when the people of faith gain financial success. He exploits the contributions of his constituency in order to maintain his wealth. The religious constituency has been blinded to the historical reality that the Baal prophets of Israel were interested in bales of money.

In Israel it was the same in their final years before the captivities of Assyria and Babylonia. The prophets of God encountered the prosperity prophets who said that the end was not near. The prosperity prophets cried out, “Peace, peace” (Jr 6:14). But there was no peace. Doom was imminent. The “peace prophets” lashed out against God’s prophets who said that the end was near.   God’s messengers, subsequently, brought upon themselves the “trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, also bonds and imprisonment” (Hb 11:36; see Hb 11:37-40).

The same prosperity preachers existed again when national Israel was coming to its final demise in A.D. 70. With the consummation of national Israel in view, Luke recorded that the prosperity preachers of the time, the Pharisees, were “lovers of money” (Lk 16:14). This group of preachers had even progressed in their covetousness to the point that the money that was to be given by the children to support their parents in their old age should be given to them as Corban. It was money that was dedicated in contributions to the prosperity preachers (Mk 7:9-13).

When preachers take advantage of the people in the offerings that the people should offer in their commitment to God, then they are no better than Hophni and Phinehas who siphoned off more than their share of the contributions that were offered by the people (See 1 Sm 2:12-17).   As their judgment, these two prosperity preachers ended up dead because they took advantage of the people’s offerings to God.

[Lecture series will continue.]

 

Cracks in the System (4)

We would remind ourselves that the demise of the present Western civilization will not be the termination of the people.   It will be as the demise of the Soviet civilization decades ago. Russia still exists today as a people, but the Republic of the Soviet Union no longer exists. What will terminate the West will be the fall of conservative Western morals, Western values, Western behavior, and possibly a variation in the Western system of democratic government.

Those who are aware of what is culturally now in progress in the Western world will find little with which to disagree on this matter. This is especially true among those who can still remember the 1940s and 1950s. The Western world today is vastly different from those decades that marked the end of a society that no longer exists. But before we think Western civilization is finished with transformation into something vastly new and different, hang on for the end of this century. Unfortunately, those who will take Western civilization into a different era will have fewer moral norms of bygone years by which they can judge their digression.   This is the way all civilizations go out. The civilization of the grandfathers is long forgotten by the time the grandchildren or great grandchildren usher in a new civilization.

The socially democratic West began in its youth as a vibrant civilization that was full of hope and optimism. Economic growth has taken the West unto heights of remarkable prosperity. Its prosperity to a financial zenith has affected the rest of the world. In fact, many nations of the world, as was the case with the Roman Empire, depend on the existence and industrial strength of the West. Rome pumped life-giving financial blood throughout the Empire. Societies continued as long as they would vote in favor of Rome that held up their societies through financial aid and military reassurance. But in the end, Rome was unable to financially sustain all those who depended on her wealth.

The West is simply reliving the consummation about which John wrote of Rome in her latter days when dependent nations mourned over the demise of Rome. Their mourning was not over Rome itself, but over their loss of financial and military security that was provided by Rome (See Rv 18).

The nations that leached on the finances of Rome, were similar to the financial relationship that many nations today have with America. Dependent nations will vote against American positions in the UN, but at the same time have their cuffed hands stretched out behind the UN building, begging for foreign aid for their perpetually impoverished nations they govern through corruption.

But aging has also affected the democratic norms upon which the West accomplished its great financial power and influence.   To some extent, the democratic system that was given birth by independence from England through the Revolutionary War, has to some extent developed into a congress of governance that cannot get along with itself. The governance of the West is almost impotent in reference to making decisions.   And for this reason, the financial base of the West is always on the verge of the bears who would take the stock market into a financial tail spin. Most financial gurus with whom we have consulted on this matter are almost unanimous in their conclusion that the stock market is headed for a severe crash sometime in the future. And where goes the Western stock market, so goes the markets of the world.

There is heart disease in the source from which financial blood is pumped to clinging societies throughout the world. There is so much political paranoia in the governing environment that elected officials are afraid to make a decision lest they lose the votes of their liberal or conservative constituency that put them in office. Western civilization is experiencing the Achilles’ heEl of democracy: As goes the electorate of society, so goes the elected officials of society. In the case of Western civilization, the divisions within the society of the voting constituencies is so great that governance of the populous becomes almost impossible.

The problem is not so much with the forces of conservative preservation, but with a liberal constituency that has lost its moral compass. After the days of President John F. Kennedy, the people of Western civilization progressively digressed into a liberal culture of despising dignitaries. As Jude spoke of the final days of Israel in the latter part of the first century, so Western civilization is today. We are in the days of those who morally “defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignitaries (Jd 8).   This is the biblical definition of a truly social liberal. These are the days of banners that read, “Not my president,” “Abortion is legal,” “My body is my choice,” or “My life-style is my business.” Citizens have lost all respect for honoring the king or any authority that would impose on them moral standards that preserve society.   They thus feel free to march in streets against elected dignitaries whom they despise. They march for immoral social rights that attack the very fiber of society. They thus march for moral degradation.

The more harsh the criticism becomes of the social liberal, the more successful those candidates are who reflect the moral digression of the society. The civilization has now accepted the cancer of an aging person that has spread throughout the body for social self-destruction. Dysfunctional cancerous cells are spreading throughout the body of society.

No matter who would be elected to the head of state in the final years of a civilization, it is a time when this elected official will be severely criticized by those who defy moral standards.   They despise any leaders who would impose on them any moral standards. This answers the question as to why the Millennial Generation that is barely above ten percent religious, has a difficult time with moral standards that would come from any faith, that believes in the moral standards of a Higher Power. This eighty-million strong generation is bringing into Western civilization the collapse of religious social standards that preserve societies. “Church goers” in a collapsing civilization, therefore, should not be surprised that “church attendance” is also collapsing. It is simply a telltale sign of a collapsing civilization when a society “despises the dominion” of anyone who would imposed moral values.

The most sinister morals of the nation thrives on the criticism of any leader who would promote standards by which society must conduct itself. This criticism would be focused toward any local religious leader, and go all the way to the top seats of government. And among the top seats, senators of the empire are willing to take knives of criticism and put Caesar to death. And then after Caesar is gone, another Caesar is set up for the same fate.   There is biting and devouring among those who are supposed to control the society.

In the religious community of a collapsing civilization, religious universalism becomes the philosophy of religion of the times. Universalism (everybody is going to heaven), becomes so accepted that those religious leaders who preach unchanging moral norms are “despised dignitaries.” Since anyone of faith will be saved, and thus should be accepted by everyone, then those who would impose any moral standards on society should be rejected. Whether from the Bible, Quran, or any “book of faith,” unchanging moral standards are to be rejected for the sake of bringing everyone of the liberal society into the faith of their choice. No one has a right to judge another, and no religious book of authority is to be accepted if it requires obedience to unchanging moral standards. If one is simply religious, then he or she will make it through the pearly gates, if indeed there is life after death.

The people of a dying civilization become frustrated with the constant political turmoil that has brought the aging nation to the old age of political paranoia and social dysfunction. As an old person who can no longer make decisions for the future, Western civilization is in the throes of constant struggles from within. Citizens are frustrated with social dysfunction, but they have little understanding of that to which they aspire. Such is the frustration of a liberal society that has lost its moral compass. What is being experienced is the collapse of a civilization through the fall of sustaining norms that keep a society on a moral course.   So as Rome, the collapse is from within. The city of Rome did eventually fall to an invading army. However, it had already fallen socially and economically long before the invaders reached the gates of the capital.

In our aging years, we are not in control of our being. We used our youth to gain our wealth to decide our future, and now we are trying to use our wealth to sustain our existence for just a few more decades. When an aging nation is out of control because of the lack of ability to make decisions, it becomes as individuals whose aging process is out of control. In order to disguise the teetering bicycle, we “dress for success” in order to hide our aging. In order to give a presentation that we are still great, we present ourselves in a way that portrays to the voting constituents and the world that we are in control of our own destiny.

 

We forget that our destiny is determined by our age, and thus, we all follow the path of Rome and a thousand other expired empires since the beginning of time. No matter how successful we present ourselves to those who depend on us, there are aging forces at work in the Western society that will eventually bring the civilization to its knees. We are only deceiving ourselves if we think we can elect a successful technocrat as our leader, and at the same time, avoid the overpowering forces of social and economic dysfunctions that bring empires down.

So we deceive ourselves. One of the signs of a civilization that has aged is the presentation of their rulers as “presidential.” Our leaders must look and behave like kings. They thus dress like kings. And as President Macron of France, they spend thousands of dollars on cosmetics in order to give the appearance of a king who is in control. The use of the word “optics” is now the cherished word of those who would give a presentation of being in control. In fact, we have masters of body language to evaluate our kings in order that they behave in public as kings who are in control of the empire. But such theatrical presentations lead us to ignore that beneath the cosmetics, there are irreversible aging processes that have set in. There is sin beneath the sin that will bring Western civilization as we now know it to an end.

[Lecture series will continue.]

 

 

Aging Civilizations (3)

Societies make nations, and thus, societies are as aging individuals within a nation. Western civilization was built on the forward motion of financial prosperity.   But if for some reason cracks begin to appear in the financial structure of the society, then the society is showing the first signs of coming apart. For this reason, the rise and fall of nations in a modern world is defined by the rise and fall of the society of individuals within the nation who depend on the financial institutions of the nation.

As individuals, our bodies are unfortunately a metaphor of the rise and fall of every nation that has appeared on the stage of history since the beginning of time. As a young person, we were alert and vibrant. We were idealistic with ambitions for the future. We were full of hope and optimism. By our middle age years, we had determined who we were, and thus, were on course for the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, we began to grow old.

In our aged years it is difficult to make decisions. Actually, we become fearful of making decisions. It is as Solomon said. The evil days have come upon us (Ec 12:1). Our functionality has slowed down to the point that we seem to have no function at all.   We are afraid to make decisions because we have slowed down in our ability to function both physically and mentally. Hope is often lost because there are no aspirations for the future. The future is only death, not a long life of achievement. Solomon resolved, “As he came forth from his mother’s womb, naked will he return to go as he came. And he will take nothing from his labor that he may carry it away in his hand (Ec 5:15).

In our old age we start physically falling apart.   There is modern medicine to patch up dysfunctional parts, and in some cases replace those parts that have long since worn out. But regardless of all the patch work, the end is inevitable. We will fall apart until there is no strength to maintain life among the living.

What is most frustrating above all is that the mind seems to have been originally made by our Maker to be terminal regardless of the extension of the physical. We can medically keep the physical body going, but often the physical long surpasses the ability of the mental to continue. We forget who we are. We sometimes forget where we are. We do not trust others. We become paranoid in thinking that someone is out to get us. We make sure all the doors are locked. We are over cautious. We take no risks as we did when we were young and ambitious, and stroked with invincibility. We thus withdraw within ourselves in order to survive. We lock ourselves in from a supposedly evil world that is out to suck the last remaining sparks of life out of our very existence.

Does the preceding remind us of any particular society/nation of the world? It has all happened before a hundred times over as civilizations reached its end.   One of the most classic series of books on this matter was written by Edward Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Books as such could be written about every empire/civilization that has existed since the beginning of time. Before and after Rome, there have always been the rise and fall of empires. The West is just another in a series of empires that have risen throughout history, but now it too will eventually face consummation. It is now in the twilight of its existence as a civilization on earth because it, as all aging empires, is winding down. It is as an aging individual who cannot stop the aging processes. As a civilization, the West manifests all the symptoms of an aging body that has only demise to which to look in the future.

[Lecture series will continue.]

 

 

Economic Inequity (2)

 

The consensus of historians on this matter is in agreement with the conclusions of Nuwer. It is also a consensus that Western civilization as we know it is showing many of the signs that brought down empires of the past. As Christians who are a part of any society, it is our ministry to give hope in time of social tensions. When experiencing what seems to be the consummation of Western civilization, it is a time to direct the minds of the people toward the unchanging God who has been around since the finality of hundreds of civilizations on earth.

Christians must always be the apostles of hope for those who are having difficulty, as a part of a society, to transition into a new and different civilization. The Holy Spirit’s exhortation of 1 Peter 3:15 is appropriate to prepare the people around us with hope, regardless of what happens. As Christians were in the throes of the fall of national Israel prior to A.D. 70, Peter wrote to encourage those Jewish Christians who believed the prophecy of the demise of national Israel that was spoken by Jesus (Mt 24), that they must encourage their fellow countrymen to maintain their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

“But sanctity Christ as Lord God in your hearts and be ready always to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear” (1 Pt 3:15).

It causes no little anxiety to compare the judgments of the prophets of Israel in reference to Israel’s demise to what is leading Western civilization to the same conclusion. One of the major reasons for the demise of national Israel could be summed up in one statement: A poor economic class developed in Israel that was continually exploited for the benefit of the rich. When this social structure was developed in Israel, God said it was over. When such a social structure develops within any society, it is not possible for the principles of God’s word to rule in the hearts of the people. What rules is a selfish elite class who exploit the lower class who compose the majority of the society. In such a social environment of inequity, the concept of “love your neighbor as yourself” is no longer relevant. The principle of loving one’s neighbor as himself cannot be sustained in a society where one economic class marginalizes another in order to maintain their own economic superiority.

In the end of Israel, God said to the economically advantaged, “For you have eaten up the vineyard. The plunder of the poor is in your houses” (Is 3:14).   Their luxurious houses manifested that the poor had been exploited for the benefit of the rich. The rich had ground “the faces of the poor” for their own prosperity (Is 3:15). Isaiah continued,

“Woe to those who enact unrighteous [constitutional degrees], and who write misfortune that they have prescribed [through legislation], in order to turn aside the needy from justice and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey and that they may rob the fatherless!” (Is 10:1,2).

As a prophet during social demise, Isaiah continued to speak of the foolish ones of Israel who led the way to the end of Israel’s civilization. The rich aristocracy were the fools who devised “wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speak right” (Is 32:7).   Jeremiah joined Isaiah by proclaiming that the economically advantaged “do not defend the rights of the poor” (Jr 5:28).

We wonder where Western civilization is in reference to this reason for the end of these civilizations? Could there be embedded in a national tax bill those things that exacerbate the continued separation of the haves from the have nots?

Nuwer also reported the results of a systems scientist by the name of Safa Motesharrei at the University of Maryland, U.S.A. Nuwer referred to the conclusions of Motesharrei that …

“… elites push society toward instability and eventual collapse by hoarding huge quantities of wealth and resources, and leaving little or none for commoners who vastly outnumber them yet support them with labor.”

These words echo the pronouncements of Isaiah and Jeremiah when the two prophets proclaimed the final days of Israel.

Benjamin Friedman compared Western civilization with the spinning wheels of a bicycle. The wheels are kept spinning by the forward motion of economic health.   However, if the forward motion of the bicycle slows, then the bicycle starts to teeter. If the wheels cannot be kept turning by strong economics in order to produce social equity, then the bicycle society is headed for social collapse.   We would add that the bicycle may come to a conclusion in forward motion, fall to the side, but the wheels will keep spinning as a deceptive indication of continuing life. However, the spinning wheels will eventually come to a halt.

[Lecture series continued.]

Rise & Fall of Empires (1)

As we journey through any study of the end of civilizations, Christians must always remind themselves with the following statement of King Asa of old as he faced his enemies and the probable end of his kingdom:

“Lord, it is nothing with You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power. Help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in You and in Your name we go against this multitude, O Lord, You are our God. Let no man prevail against You” (2 Ch 14:11).

And then there were the words of the psalmist, who at the time, was evidently experiencing traumatic times in either social or national upheaval.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth is removed and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea” (Ps 46:1,2).

No better words could have been spoken when God’s people stand against the onslaught of opposition that would prevail in a world of evil. It is always as Jonathan said to his armor bearer as he was about to engage the enemies of God, “… there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few” (1 Sm 14:6).

With that encouragement, we rally our thoughts around what many historians believe is the final century of Western civilization as we know it. It is not a matter of if, but when. And when we speak of the fall of civilizations, we speak of decades, if not centuries. But one truth is always axiomatic when historians contemplate the end of empires. All empires eventually reach their consummation. Only the naive assume that what they have and enjoy in the present will continue forever. In the history of civilizations, that is simply not possible.

We must sometimes live for decades before we can be aware of centennial transitions in civilizations. As Western civilization now transitions into its finality, our experience of seven decades speaks no different than those of past millennia who have experienced the fall of empires in their time. As Israel’s prophets cried out against the majority in their final years, so we would today as we experience the winding down of the great Western civilization. If one would question our concerns, we do not stand alone. A simple Google search on the Internet will reveal an overwhelming amount of books and articles on this subject. So bear with some of our own speculations, if not postulations concerning what we have gleaned from the material that has been researched and written.

Rachel Nuwer, in a featured BBC Future’s Best of 2017, was right when she wrote that the collapses of many civilizations …

“… have occurred many times in human history, and no civilization, no matter how seemingly great, is immune to the vulnerabilities that may lead a society to its end.   Regardless of how well things   are going in the present moment, the situation can always change. Putting aside species-ending events like an asteroid strike, nuclear winter or deadly pandemic, history tells us that it’s usually a plethora [combination] of factors that contribute to collapse. What are they, and which, if any, have already begun to surface? It should come as no surprise that humanity is currently on an unsustainable and uncertain path—but just how close are we to reaching the point of no return?” (Emphasis mine, R.E.D.).

[Lecture series continued.]

Defending A Divergent

There are few things more difficult to accomplish in the realm of religious discussions than to defend Christianity with someone who has defined Christianity as something that would be viewed through the Crusades, or some divergent cult. This is particularly true in reference to the non-Christian world that has a concept of Christianity that is so different from what we read in our New Testaments.

Nevertheless, this is the challenge every true Christian has in a world of the international news media whose definition of Christianity is often based on the behavior of the “Christian” religious establishment of our times. There is Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and then they just throw in “Christianity.” The news media knows no difference. One religion is just as good as another. The international news media is as blind as the world of non-Christian religions in their view of true Christianity. And sadly, many of those who would “classify” themselves as “Christian,” are just as guilty in their dysfunctional understanding of true Christianity because of their lack of knowledge of what should define their faith (See Rm 10:17).

But this challenge also faced the early Christians. The government figure, Felix, considered the Christians of his day to simply be a “sect” of Nazarenes who were divergent from mainline Judaism (At 24:5). When the apostle Paul finally extracted himself from the religious establishment of the Jews, he looked back and called the religious canonization of rules and traditions in which he once lived to be the “Jews’ religion,” or “Judaism” (Gl 1:13).

The international news media today has a difficult time in understanding true Christianity.   When divergent becomes the norm by which the “Christian” religious establishment is defined, then simple Christians are thrown into a difficult predicament. In their efforts to explain themselves, they are more often talking past those to whom they would explain themselves.

I have always wanted to write a letter to the government of China. That I will eventually do, for one of the difficult philosophical predicaments that “divergent Christianity” has produced in this world is a twisted understanding of Christianity. What has been presented to the world of politics, unfortunately, is simply not who Christians are. Subsequently, the government policies of some nations of the world are often antagonistic against a “divergent Christianity” that finds no definition in the Bible. I would defend before such governments that the establishment of “divergent Christianity” in the West does not explain who true Christians are.

Here’s a suggestion for every Christian: What we should do, as those who are seeking to emulate in our lives the true faith that we discover in the word of God, is preach and live the person of Jesus Christ.   In the presence of those who are a part of “divergent Christianity,” we will defend Jesus, and live according to His gospel.

To most people of the world, “Christianity” is simply viewed as just another religion among the assortment of choices the religious world offers. But such cannot be said of Jesus Christ the Son of God. If we focus on Jesus, and not “Christianity,” then the world must deal with the origin of our faith. Instead of being antagonists against an established religion, they would have to deal with Jesus Christ. If we could somewhat rephrase a statement of a particular religion, we would make some changes by saying, “There is one God, and Jesus is not only His prophet, but also the only begotten Son of God.” This belief is the beginning of the separation of true Christianity from the beliefs of all other faiths of the world.

Russia

If I were a Russian today, I would have somewhat about which to boast. I know this is difficult for the Western liberal to understand. Being overwhelmed with all the bad things that Russia seemingly has done, or does, we must not forget that there is nothing that Russia has done on the international scene today that has not been done by Western countries throughout their history, including interference in the leadership of other nations. (We have not forgotten the meddling the West played in Latin American countries during the 1960s and 1970s.) We seem to forget that spies and covert operations and all the rest of the 007 influences is a part of what world countries do among themselves.   Therefore, no one has a right to judge another in these areas.

Unfortunately for Russia, their meanderings here and there have come at a time in history when the West is becoming increasingly liberal, both in culture and faith.   Combine this liberal philosophy of morals with the demise of religiosity in the West, and we have the perfect storm for a confrontation between the liberal/nonreligious West to be in conflict with an increasing growth in religiosity and conservatism of Russia.

Every nation would be envious of Putin as a leader. He is conservative. He is direct. He is subtle. He is religious. He is a no-nonsense leader who presently has a phenomenal approval rating of the people. Tell me of another president who has as high an approval rating as Putin who has been president of a country as long as he has? Nevertheless, as a leader of a Russian people who are becoming more conservative and religious, Putin becomes the ideal scapegoat for the Western liberal, both in morals and religion.

Since social and religious liberals of the West did not recently get their way in their movement of the Western nation of America to the far right, they have concluded that here must be some demon who was the vermin that stopped them from their efforts of the moral degradation of Western civilization. But we are not deceived. This is not a political matter of international election meddling.   It was and is a confrontation between a Russia that is becoming increasing conservative and religious, and a Western culture of people who are becoming increasingly liberal and nonreligious. I will have to side with the Russians on this one.

Jesus’ Last Words

G.  Last words of trust:

“And crying out with a loud voice, Jesus said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit!’” (Lk 23:46).   Jesus again quoted from the Psalms in order to remind the people that He had fulfilled prophecy (See Ps 31:5).   He not only fulfilled prophecy in reference to what He did in His ministry, but He also fulfilled prophecy in reference to statements that were said in prophecy.

This statement infers that Jesus lived in compliance with the will of the Father throughout His ministry. He was confident in His obedience. He could thus confidently relinquish His spirit into the hands of the Father, whom He trusted could take it from there. We read the same sentiment in the words of Stephen when he was stoned to death by an angry mob: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (At 7:59). After Stephen said these words, “he fell asleep” (At 7:60). And Jesus, after He had uttered His last words, “breathed His last” (Lk 23:46). Both trusted that the Father and Son could assume responsibility of their destiny in eternity.

We see in the final words of Jesus and Stephen their confidence in their final destiny. Such assurance should be characteristic of every disciple who nears his final breath. In our final hours, we seek to have the same confidence as Paul after he had endured tremendous hardships in order to finish his business:

I have fought the good fight. I have finished my course [business]. I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me at that day, and not only to me, but also to all those who have loved His appearing (2 Tm 4:7,8).

[End of lesson. And, Merry Christmas. I pray that this series focuses your mind on Jesus, the One about whom Christmas is all about.]